More than ever, we are increasingly aware of treading lightly when it comes to the impact our choices and actions have on the planet. There’s a lot of talk about reducing carbon footprint these days, but what does this really mean? At Mission LED, we genuinely believe that big changes start small and minimizing your carbon footprint is no different.
We’ve put together a list of ideas to get you thinking about how you can further reduce your environmental impact and lower your footprint at home.
Reduce Carbon Footprint at Home in 15 Easy Steps
- Programmable thermostat. For most Canadian homeowners, heating is the single largest consumer of energy, making up about 50% of our energy bills. Changing thermostat settings throughout the day is an easy way to save energy and money -and reduce carbon footprint at home-. Programmable thermostats vary in price from $30 to $300+ with many paying for themselves in energy savings within the first year. Once programmed, you can rest assured knowing that your home’s heating system isn’t wasting energy when you don’t need it.
- LED light bulbs. LEDs quite simply are the most efficient, longest lasting light bulb on the market today. Recent advances have made LEDs significantly cheaper than they once were and there are a wide variety of brightness levels and colours available. If the thought of changing out 30-40 bulbs at $5-10 each has your wallet wincing, start slow and pick up 1-2 LED bulbs a month or whenever you’re in the vicinity of your neighbourhood Ikea store. Ikea sells LED bulbs for as cheap as $3.99 for a two-pack.
- Turn off the tap. The lineup of commercials for 2016’s Super Bowl had lots of funny moments, but amidst the Weiner Stampede and Ryanville, there were a few ads with a more serious tone including the Colgate commercial, which did a good job illustrating how leaving the water running while brushing your teeth or shaving means pouring a valuable resource right down the drain.
- Tankless hot water heater. If your hot water tank is due for replacing, consider upgrading to a tankless or on-demand water heater. Not only are you saving energy by heating only the water you need (as opposed to constantly heating a large tank of water), the tankless style takes up far less room, provides an endless supply of hot water, and has a lifespan up to twice as long as conventional tank hot water heaters – so it’s a smart way to reduce carbon footprint at home and save water.
- Look for ENERGY STAR® or EnerGuide labels on new appliances. Products that are certified by ENERGY STAR meet strict technical specifications of energy performance. Typically they are in the top 15 to 30 percent of their class for energy performance. In Canada, we also have the EnerGuide label, which lists important information such as the annual energy consumption of the model in kilowatt hours (kWh) and the energy consumption indicator, which positions each product model on a scale between the most efficient and least efficient models in the same class. Buying energy-efficient appliances has never been easier.
- Collect water in rain barrels. Your backyard planter boxes, garden, or even patio tomatoes and herbs are all wonderful opportunities to provide homegrown produce for your family. Collecting rainwater for irrigation takes your responsible food production system to the next level.
- Upgrade your recycling. When was the last time you researched exactly what can be recycled in your neighbourhood? It might be time to overhaul your recycling habits and see what other opportunities exist to cut down on landfill waste. Check online for municipal recycling program information or contact a local reuse centre for details on what kinds of items they accept.
- Eat organic, local and in-season produce. The more we can do to reduce the distance between farm to fork, the better. Not only are we supporting local producers, we are also minimizing fuel consumption used to transport goods over vast distances and we put increased pressure on the big box stores to provide more local, organic produce. Companies like Spud or Organic Box make it easy and will deliver the best in local, organic produce right to your door.
- Ditch the bottled water. Last year, Americans used about 50 billion plastic bottles, only 23% of which were recycled. Carrying around your own reusable water bottle filled with water from a filtered pitcher costs about 19 cents a day and reduces ecologically devastating plastic pollution.
- Unplug chargers. Items like device chargers are constantly drawing power. Create a main charging station in your home using a power bar with a timer so it’s only functioning at certain times of the day.
- Choose a laptop over a desktop. According to ENERGY STAR, a laptop can be up to 80% more energy-efficient than a desktop. Computer usage is the last thing on our minds when looking to reduce carbon footprint at home, but if you work on a laptop using only the battery and charging as needed, both the planet and your wallet will see a change!
- Reduce consumption of meat and/or dairy. No one is suggesting a vegan revolution here. Rather, there is some convincing data suggesting the average North American is consuming more than 1.5 times the average daily protein requirement, which means there is room for improvement. Industrial food animal production (IFAP) has implications for global climate change including toxicity from animal waste pollution and high rates of water consumption, in addition to an estimated15% of total carbon emissions resulting from the processing and distribution of animal products worldwide.
- (Un)cover extra heating opportunities with your windows. In the winter months, leaving curtains or blinds open allows solar and radiant heat into your home, which reduces furnace requirements. Alternatively, during the summer, it is a good idea to keep east- and west-facing windows shaded to reduce unwanted heating.
- Wash clothes in cold water and hang to dry as much as possible.
- Drive responsibly. Carpool and use public transportation whenever possible. Also ensure your vehicle is running efficiently with regular maintenance. Something as simple as under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption up to 3%.
At MissionLED, we believe everyone plays a role when it comes to what’s necessary to protect our planet for the future. How many of the above tips are you already doing? Which ones will you try next? Did we miss a simple way to reduce carbon footprint at home? Tell us and we’ll spread the word!
About The Author
Serial Entrepreneur, Technologist and Inventor my objective is to develop useful products that have a net positive effect in the lives of those that use them and the environment that we live in. CEO of Mission LED Lighting Company Ltd.